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Oh Snap! A Cold Snap

February 11th, 2010 by flanews

Snow is in the forecast for some parts of the Panhandle, which is causing some problems for farmers and wildlife trying to rebound from last months cold spell. As Whitney Ray tells us, the January freeze is costing farmers 600 million dollars, and has cost 165 manatees their lives.

Frozen fruit and frostbitten fish were on the menu in January as two straight weeks of freezing temperatures wreaked havoc on Florida farmers.

“Overall it’s about a 30 percent loss, 600 million dollars in losses,” said Charles Bronson, Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture.

The hardest hit farms are being offered low interest loans from the federal government to cover their costs, but their worries aren’t over.

Snow is in the forecast Friday for parts of the Panhandle. It’s rare in the Sunshine State.

On a February day in 1899, enough fell for lawmakers to take their fight outdoors and hurl snowballs at each other.

In February 1958 it snowed again. In 1977, the Palm Beach Post reported the area’s first snowfall in recorded history. Governor Charlie Crist remembers seeing snow in the 70’s.

“When and if it does come to north Florida, enjoy it. It’s beautiful to see and thank God we don’t get much of it,” said Crist.

The sentiment is shared by the state’s wildlife. Since the first of the year, a thousand sea turtles and more than 165 manatees have died of cold stress. Wildlife experts are pleading with boaters to keep their distance.

“Give the animals a wide birth when its cold like it is this week,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife biologist, Carol Knox.

The good news is the freeze isn’t expected to last as long as January’s.

Even if it doesn’t snow, temperatures across the state could still be deadly for plants, pets, and people living outdoors. Many shelters are making special arrangements for the homeless. Emergency workers are asking people to bring their pets and plants inside over night.

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